Interpol’s African Cyberthreat Assessment Report for 2021 found that, Cyber-attacks cost South Africa R2.2 billion per annum. In March this year, it was reported that a major credit bureau fell victim to a cyber-attack that compromised the information of 3 million people.
These incidents prove the threat of cybercrime has become so pervasive to the extent that an Accenture report on digital safety found that South Africa experiences roughly 577 malware-attacks per hour. Hybrid work has heightened vulnerabilities as people’s lives become increasingly interconnected.
The pandemic accelerated remote work, which has arguably outpaced the requisite cyber security, as people and their devices migrate between the security of their offices and the relative insecurity of their homes.
Phillipa Wild of Santam, says, “Since the pandemic started, we have seen a spike in cybercrime. A contributing factor is that more people are working from home and connecting back to the office without using VPNs.”
“It has become trickier to detect when data has been compromised – gone are the days of a virus showing up as a blue screen with a smiley face! Now a trojan or piece of malware lurks unseen in the system, ‘sleeping’ or actively extracting data for an external source.”
If you want to ensure the safety of your business’ confidential information, it is crucial that you take the following steps:
Cover your bases
Falling prey to a cyber-attack can have a potentially fatal impact on any business. The average small business hack can cost your company anywhere between R50 000 to R250 000, if not more, to recover from and if your organisation is found to have not complied with POPI regulations then the fine can be significant.
It is important to consider good cyber risk management practices as well as appropriate cyber insurance cover, often available as a package in the market. This will help protect your business against losses such as business interruption, ransomware and forensic costs, caused by a malware attack.
Steps to protect yourself
- Draft a comprehensive cyber security policy: Keep an eye out for news reports on the most common cyber threats. Be sure to stress the dangers of cybercrime to your employees and to constantly refresh their memories about the most important things they can do to protect your business. Warn them about common tricks, urge them to create strong passwords and remind them to regularly change passwords. Encourage them to ask if something feels a bit off.
- Have good password hygiene in place: Ensure staff choose strong passwords and to change them regularly. A strong password is at least 10 characters long and includes symbols and numbers. You can use password generators to instantly create secure and random passwords.
- Download with caution: Have strict protocols about what can be installed on company computers without authorisation to increase your computer security.
- Fortify your system: Install barriers that have been designed to oppose spyware and virus and phishing attacks.
- Keep a digital eye open to prevent employees and hackers from uploading data to storage clouds.
- Stay updated: Updates can be annoying, but they exist for a reason so always perform them. Called ‘patches’, exist to fix vulnerabilities in the software that can be exploited by hackers or malware.
- Consider cyber insurance packaged with good cyber risk management services.